Nuclear Electric Power

NSPE Position Statement No. 1757
Approved: July 2011
Latest Revision: April 2014

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) represents licensed Professional Engineers and promotes the ethical and competent practice of engineering, advocates licensure, and enhances the image and well-being of its members.

It is the position of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) that the United States should continue to lead the world in the advancement and use of nuclear electric power.

NSPE’s members include mechanical, nuclear, electrical, civil, chemical, and safety engineers who are directly involved in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of U.S. nuclear electric power plants.

NSPE supports the continued use of nuclear power in the United States as a major feature of national energy policy. In particular, NSPE encourages the deployment of Generation III improved light water reactors and smaller modular reactors as a means to reduce costs, enhance plant safety, and help decrease U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by increasing our percentage of nuclear generated electricity.

To reduce our reliance on oil and other foreign sources of energy, a diversified portfolio of economically feasible domestic energy options and technologies should be developed along with a vigorous program of long-term national emphasis on energy conservation and efficiency. Nuclear power is the only currently viable, base load scale technically proven alternative to oil, natural gas, and coal-fired power for our future electric power supply. Nuclear energy is also the only immediately available source for base load scale electrical energy that produces negligible emissions of greenhouse gases.

We recognize that power cost does determine what sources of power will be deployed in the U.S. Discoveries and development of widespread shale gas fields in the U.S. have led to a major reduction in natural gas costs. These resources can be developed rapidly if needed for electric power production. The long time required to design and deploy a nuclear power plant has made utility investment in new nuclear plants more risky at this time. Consequently, we are experiencing a short-term reduction in new nuclear plant deployment and some retirement of older Generation II plants that require major maintenance or improvements to be made to extend their useful life. These economic facts do not lessen the long-term value of nuclear power as a path to energy independence and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The realization of the potential contributions of nuclear power to the production of electrical energy in the United States depends on gaining and retaining public and political acceptance of the safe and economic operation of nuclear power plants and the reliable management of nuclear wastes. It is imperative that industry and government continue to stress excellence in the planning, design, construction, reliability of operation, maintenance, management, and regulation of nuclear power plants to strengthen the confidence of the American public. Public concerns about nuclear waste storage must be allayed through a renewed emphasis by the U.S. on plans for long-term storage and through the wide dissemination of the existing safe record of spent fuel storage at reactor sites.

NSPE takes positions on public policy issues of interest to our members. Our members come from all engineering disciplines and practice in the areas of government, industry, construction, higher education and private practice. Regardless of expertise, practice area or communities we serve, it is our firm belief that the nation's interests are best served for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare by positioning Professional Engineers where their skills can be utilized. To this end, licensed Professional Engineers play a vital role in the design, construction, operation, management, regulation and development of Nuclear Electric Power.